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Slow Down to Win Customers

Slow Down to Win Customers

Winning new customers and keeping current ones happy isn’t helped by trying to work too fast. Customers are rarely as impressed by sheer speed as they are by clear evidence that you are trying to understand their real needs and make sure you can deal with them fully.

The easiest way to make anyone feel special is to give them your time and undivided attention. By slowing down, giving each customer more attention, and taking the time you and they need to work out what they truly want, you’ll get better results than the people who try to rush through their time with any one customer to hurry on to the next.

The Power of Attention

When someone gives you their full attention, you naturally feel valued and important. It’s an automatic human response. In contrast, if you get the feeling that the other person is paying you scant attention, it passes a clear message that something or someone else is more important than you are.

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It’s fatally easy when you feel harassed and under pressure to deal with other people, even customers, with the greater part of your attention elsewhere. If that is what happens, you will be sending that customer a silent message that, whatever words come out of your mouth, you are actually less interested in them and their needs that you are in something else.

It is a myth that pressure concentrates or focuses the mind. The reverse is true. Under pressure, human minds do not work so well. Anxious brains are far less effective than calm ones. Look at the problems many people experience with examination nerves, or how they become flustered and anxious when they must give an important presentation. No one can think as clearly in a rush as they can when they feel calm and relaxed.

Slowing Down Helps Focus

The best way to restore full focus on the task in hand, or the customer in front of you, is to slow down. Which is better: to rush from client to client, never quite giving any of them your full attention (and so gaining little or no business as they respond to the sense they are of little value), or to deal with fewer clients in a day and give each your full attention? If you take the second course, you can be nearly certain you’ll win more business overall.

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Customers prefer to deal with people and organizations that treat them well and make them feel important. They judge value by how well their needs are met and any problems they have are solved, fully and permanently. They aren’t interested in your sales quota or the pressures you face to make your budget. As far as each customer is concerned, they are the only one, and that’s how they expect, deep down, to be treated.

Quick Fixes Won’t Help

Imagine yourself as a customer with a problem or a concern. Which of these experiences will make you feel better?

  • Before you have even fully explained you problem, the sales person jumps in with a solution. You aren’t convinced he or she even listened to you properly. Besides, their suggestion sounds like an off-the-shelf answer. It works, sort of‚ but it doesn’t quite solve your problem to the full. You suspect you’ve been given the quick fix.
  • The sales person listens carefully, asks questions and seems to have all the time in the world to deal with you and your concerns. When you finish, the sales person asks for a little time to think carefully about what you said to be able to come up with a good solution. A day or so later, the sales person contacts you with a response that exactly fits your problem and leaves you confident it has been solved and you will face no further hassle.

Most sales people know the second approach is right. What prevents them from following it is unreasonable pressure from their own management, who often equate more business with more busyness.

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Time is a Precious Gift

Organizations that drive sales and customer service staff so hard that they cannot spend the necessary time with customers are shooting themselves in both feet. In their mad urge to maximize short-term results, they end by alienating their long-term customer base and driving them to competitors. Winning a new customer is extremely expensive; keeping an existing one saves costs and provides stable and predictable sales—the holy grail of most organizations.

Few gifts are as precious as your time. When you deal with people calmly and without haste, you increase their feelings of our value and their sense of confidence in what you have to offer. The harassed doctor giving each patient five minutes and a prescription will handle scores of people in a day, yet send each one away uncertain about their treatment and worried about the diagnosis. The school teacher facing too many pupils cannot spend enough time with any of them to make a difference to their learning. The overworked sales or customer service professional trying to deal as quickly as possible with current clients to free time to prospect for more, is forced into actions that are very likely to lose business instead of win it. The employer who forces this on them to supposedly save costs is acting in the most shortsighted way imaginable.

Slowing down seems counterintuitive when you are feeling under pressure, but it is nearly always the best way forward. Try it.

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P.S. You may already be aware of ChangeThis: It’s a site that publishes 15-20 page PDF “manifestos” on topics of interest to people who think about their world. To be able to publish a manifesto on ChangeThis, you must first submit a proposal. Visitors to the site then have the opportunity to vote on the manifestos they would most like to see written. Those with the highest number of votes are the ones chosen for publication.

Slow Leadership has submitted a proposal to publish a manifesto. You can find it here. Please go to the site and vote for us! That’s the only way to make sure the manifesto is published. Thanks. We need your help on this one.

Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman and a retired business executive. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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